There are funds available for families in need of financial assistance, distributed through the Children's Scholarship Fund & BLOCS scholarships. Learn more about these scholarships.
About private schools
Public schools in Philadelphia (both district and charter) are free to all students. In addition to some great public school choices, there are also many private schools that a parent can choose from--over 100, in fact.
In Philadelphia, these include Catholic schools run by the Archdiocese, private religious schools (including religions other than Catholicism), and private secular schools. Private schools are varied in size and location and offer a wide range of teaching styles, electives, and opportunities for parent involvement. Begin searching for private schools.
They also differ in cost. While most Catholic high schools are approximately $7,000-$8,000 per year, there are also private schools with costs up to $40,000. This "sticker price" can be overwhelming, but keep in mind that many schools have financial aid available and there are organizations in Philadelphia that offer scholarships for school-aged students.
Financial Aid & Scholarships (school-based):
Most private schools offer some level of financial aid. There are two primary types of financial aid: need-based financial aid and merit-based scholarships.
- Need-based financial aid typically requires applying in advance and includes submitting proof of your household income. Catholic high schools in Philadelphia, for instance, have multiple need-based financial aid programs that can be applied to 17 qualifying high schools. Read more about these opportunities here.
Independent private schools often have their own programs. This varies depending on the schools-- and it's not directly related to the school's price tag. A school that costs $40,000, for instance, may offer full tuition to a number of students or have a special fund specifically for low-income families while one that has a $20,000 tuition cost may be unable to offer any financial aid.
In most cases, determining whether a school is affordable for your family will require speaking with the school directly.
- Merit-based scholarships are based on previous academic achievement or civic involvement. A student must apply or be nominated to be considered for these awards. For many Catholic schools, these requirements will include a high GPA or score on a standardized test (typically the Cognitive Skills Index or Terra Novas). If your child has not taken these tests, reach out to the school directly. Often, there is some flexibility and/or an opportunity to take a placement test in lieu of this score.
Learn more about Catholic high school scholarships or contact the school directly to request more information.
Independent private schools set their own criteria for scholarships. They may require essays, transcripts, or hold a selective interview process. Ask the school about timelines for submitting these scholarships as they are often due in the year before your student begins school.
Children's Scholarship Fund & BLOCS
In addition to school-based scholarships & financial aid, multiple organizations offer need-based financial aid to Philadelphia families.
- The Children's Scholarship Fund Philadelphia (CSFP) offers four-year scholarships for students in grades K-8 who wish to enroll in a private school. As the largest provider of K-8th grade scholarships in Pennsylvania, CSFP partners with over 185 diverse participating schools (many of whom are not associated with any religion) in the Philadelphia area, offering your family an opportunity to select a school that best fits your child(ren)'s needs.
These scholarships make tuition more manageable; they are partial and dependent on your family's income. The maximum scholarship is $2,500. Families contribute a minimum of $500 per year, with the average family pays approximately $1,800 per year. If you are chosen, up to three eligible children in your family may receive CSFP scholarship awards.
The application is available online here.
Every parent who completes and submits the application by the deadline will be entered into CSFP's random lottery.
- BLOCS, or Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools, is an organization that provides partial scholarships to Philadelphia students interested in attending Catholic schools. During the 2014-15 school year, BLOCS granted partial tuition scholarships to more than 5,500 students.
To apply, a family must fulfill income requirements. A family with one dependent must have an annual income of less than $90,000. For each additional dependent, you can make an additional $15,000 per child.
For more information, visit here.